The State of Origin hockey rivalry between New South Wales and Queensland is blazing orange tonight after Brisbane Blaze won both the Women’s and Men’s matches in an action packed double header at the Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre.
Brisbane Blaze is well and truly back in the hunt to defend its Sultana Bran Hockey One League title after a first quarter onslaught saw the Queenslanders account for fellow contenders NSW Pride 4-1 in Sydney tonight.
The win sends the Blaze above the Pride into third on the ladder, although the Queenslanders have played one match more than the teams around them.
Billed as a State of Origin showdown, the contest featuring a plethora of current and aspiring Hockeyroos talent did not disappoint.
The Blaze stormed out of the blocks and took a four goal advantage inside the first 15 minutes courtesy of doubles from young excitement machine Hannah Cullum-Sanders and Savannah Fitzpatrick.
It took just six minutes for Cullum-Sanders to break the deadlock as she showed expert control before producing a superb finish on the reverse to beat Pride goalkeeper Zoe Newman.
The 19 year old followed it up with a classy conversion to give the Blaze an early two goal buffer.
That lead was doubled in the 13th minute when Fitzpatrick perfectly measured her angles, sending a low pinpoint shot on the reverse between the left foot of Newman and the far post.
Fitzpatrick was again successful with the conversion opportunity and suddenly the Pride had the task in front of them staring at a four goal deficit.
The Blaze’s stunning first quarter stung the Pride into action as a long aerial pass found Abby Wilson, the striker knocking the ball first time but it went just wide of the post.
Wilson then turned provider when she delivered a perfectly weighted and direct pass into the path of Grace Stewart who clinically hammered her shot in between the legs off Blaze keeper Jordan Bliss to make it 4-1. The goal was Stewart’s fifth of the season.
Bliss squared the ledger with Stewart as she kept out the ensuing conversion opportunity to keep it a three goal game.
A brilliant piece of last gasp defending from Grace Young prevented Rosie Malone from extending the Blaze advantage.
Malone’s first attempt on the reverse was blocked by Newman, the ball rebounding back to the Hockeyroo whose follow up effort was heading into the top half of the net before a desperate Young somehow managed to get her raised stick to the ball just before it went in.
The third quarter was an arm wrestle with neither side able to add to their half time goal tally.
Inside the opening 30 seconds of the last quarter Mariah Williams fed Stewart in the circle, the striker shrugging off Ashlea Fey before flashing her shot wide of the mark.
Fitzpatrick was then denied at the other end by a well timed intervention by Newman as the game opened up with the Pride becoming increasingly desperate for quick goals.
Urged on by the home crowd, the Pride had their tails up as they surged forward trying to erase the three goal deficit but the Blaze defence was hanging on.
Cullum-Sanders was determined to put an end to any thought of a Pride fightback as she created some half chances in the circle without reward.
Young then sent a searching ball down the channel into the circle and Stewart snuck out the back only to rifle her attempted tomahawk over the bar in what was the last clear chance of the match.
“It was a gutsy win by the girls. We played really well, played well as a team and I’m really proud of how we went about it,” said Fitzpatrick.
“There was lots of tension out there but tension is good…it worked for us and Queenslanders always lift against New South Wales so it was good to do that today.”
Brisbane Blaze has the bye in the penultimate round of the season, while NSW Pride head to Hobart to take on the Tassie Tigers next Friday night.
NSW Pride 1 (Stewart 22’)
Brisbane Blaze 4 (Cullum-Sanders 6’/6’, Fitzpatrick 13’/13’)
Friday 28 October 2022
Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre, NSW
Umpires: Michelle Farnill & Kerryl Brown
NSW Pride Women’s team: 3.Hannah Kable, 4.Kendalle Tait, 6.Estelle Hughes, 7.Grace Stewart, 8.Alana Kavanagh, 9.Zoe Newman (gk), 10.Greta Hayes, 11.Emma Scriven, 13.Tamsin Bunt, 18.Julia Bradley, 19.Morgan Blamey, 20.Maddi Smith (c), 23.Abigail Wilson, 24.Mariah Williams, 32.Grace Young
Brisbane Blaze Women’s team: 1.Savannah Fitzpatrick, 2.Ambrosia Malone, 3.Casey Dolkens, 4.Ashlea Fey, 5.Morgan Gallagher (c), 7.Hannah Cullum-Sanders, 12.Tatum Stewart, 13.Rebecca Greiner, 14.Meg Pearce, 19.Morgan Mathison, 22.Britt Wilkinson, 24.Claire Colwill, 25.Kyra Livermore, 30.Georgina West, 88.Jordan Bliss (gk)
Brisbane Blaze Men enacted some revenge from their Grand Final defeat to the Pride in the inaugural season by inflicting the New South Wales team’s first loss in the history of the Sultana Bran Hockey One League in a 5-1 result.
In a high quality encounter, a first half hat-trick from Cale Cramer and a late double from Joel Rintala ended the Pride’s winning streak at 11 matches.
With the Blaze welcoming Kookaburras midfielder Daniel Beale into the line up and with the Pride still without their overseas based Kookaburras contingent, the visitors knew this was their opportunity to strike.
After a frenetic opening, the Blaze sent an early warning shot as Tim Howard cannoned a venomous ball into the circle that took a deflection, Jake Whetton almost getting a stick to it to guide it in.
A reflex effort on the reverse from Beale then stung the pads of Ash Thomas in the Pride goal as the Blaze starting sharply.
A determined run from Pride captain Jack Hayes and clever presence of mind by Flynn Ogilvie led to the Pride winning the first penalty corner of the match in the shadows of the first quarter but they could not make it count.
Miles Davis won the home side a penalty stroke in the second quarter to give the Pride a chance to go ahead.
However, after his Player of the Match performance against HC Melbourne last weekend, Blaze goalkeeper Mitchell Nicholson kept scores level with an outstanding save to his right.
The missed opportunity for the Pride proved costly as the Blaze went ahead moments later.
Whetton sent a ball in from outside the top of the circle and Cramer’s quick reflexes and clinical striker instinct saw him deflect the ball into the back of the net.
Cramer deceived Thomas with his conversion for his seventh goal of the season and it was 2-0 to the Blaze.
Ky Willott was an inch away from drawing a goal back when his low drag flick cannoned into the post.
It was then Beale’s turn to watch a speculative effort hit the post as both sides upped the ante.
A brilliantly worked NSW Pride penalty corner variation ended with Ehren Hazell who pulled the trigger but again Nicholson came up with a superb save.
Right on half time Rintala was impeded in the circle leading to the umpire award the Blaze a penalty stroke which Cramer cooly converted to secure a first half hat-trick.
Thomas ensured the margin did not extend further when he won the one on one battle with Rintala from the conversion as both teams knew the game was still well and truly up for grabs heading into half time despite the score line.
Whetton, who was one of the Blaze players to receive a green card in the first half, emphasised his team’s need to maintain its discipline as they were forced to absorb some Pride waves when they had an extra player advantage.
Upon the resumption, Rintala had a drag flick well kept out by Thomas as the Pride survived consecutive Blaze penalty corners.
Davis then produced a moment of individual brilliance as he fired a tomahawk past Nicholson in a crowded circle to put the Pride right back into the contest.
But Nicholson came up with another clutch moment as he denied Davis the conversion to keep the score at 3-1.
Thomas was removed for the final two minutes as the Pride looked to make the most of an extra field player.
High risk can end one of two ways and unfortunately for the Pride the gamble backfired as Rintala came up with a superb diving shot from an acute angle, sending the ball into an empty net to put the result beyond doubt.
He added the icing on the cake with a successful conversion, the Blaze heading back to Brisbane on top of the ladder and high on confidence as they go into the bye in Round 6.
“It was good flow…the boys played really well and it’s a good time to perform with finals getting closer,” said three goal hero Cramer.
The Pride are away to the Tassie Tigers in another mouth-watering fixture next Friday.
NSW Pride 1 (Davis 53’)
Brisbane Blaze 5 (Cramer 19’/19’/30+’, Rintala 59’/60’)
Friday 28 October 2022
Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre, NSW
Umpires: Zeke Newman & Aaron Gotting
NSW Pride Men’s team: 5.Ash Thomas (gk), 7.Daine Richards, 8.Nathaniel Stewart, 14.Dylan Martin, 15.Miles Davis, 19.Tom Brown, 20.Ky Willott, 22.Flynn Ogilvie, 23.Ryan Proctor, 25.Jack Hayes (c), 26.Ehren Hazell, 28.Sam Gray, 32.Callum Mackay, 33.Sam Mudford, 35.Rory Walker
Brisbane Blaze Men’s team: 2.Shane Kenny, 3.Corey Weyer, 5.Lucas Brown, 7.Joel Rintala, 8.Adam Imer, 9.Jacob Anderson, 11.Michael Francis, 12.Jake Whetton (c), 13.Ethan White, 15.Cale Cramer, 16.Tim Howard, 17.Scott Boyde, 23.Daniel Beale, 27.Jared Taylor, 32.Mitchell Nicholson (gk)